My hardest moments of parenting happen when I’m exhausted.
I know that exhaustion isn’t limited to parents, obviously, but I was never this tired when I was in college. I was never this tired when I was in high school… I wasn’t even this tired when I was pregnant. For me, this is the most exhausting job I’ve ever had.
One of my favorite companions that I’ve acquired in this stage of my life is my good buddy Caffeine. Caff and I have really become close… but I’d say that, at times, the relationship wasn’t quite so healthy. Remember college? A raucous evening with your new lemon-flavored pal, Mike, followed by a quick nap and a high-five with Caff (and then six more high-fives later that day), and you were good to go. Five page paper? No problem, Caff and I have got this. 1400-hour-long tech rehearsal for that play you’re in? No big deal; Caff’s got yo’ back. It wasn’t long before I started abusing our precious friendship.
Luckily, we’ve communicated openly and have finally reached a stage in our relationship that is healthy and effective.
(Clearly this metaphor doesn’t totally work because I really doubt that caffeine gets anything out of my consumption of it, but just stick with me here.)
My previous relationship with Caff had no boundaries; I would take advantage of it whenever I could barely keep my eyes open, or when I started speaking odd languages that vaguely sounded like slurred English while trying to read children’s books aloud at 2 pm.
Now, however, I’ve realized that, if I don’t treat Caffeine with a little more respect, the relationship can go south reeeeaaaal quickly. Here are a few, completely non-scientific, caffeine-related tips I’ve learned over four exhausted years of parenting:
Start with Water, End with Water
According to various sciency people, fatigue and exhaustion can often be caused by dehydration. According to me, drinking a bunch of coffee and not matching it with equal amounts of water makes me feel terrible. My body is almost more tired than my brain, and I get a pretty serious acid-stomach. My mouth tastes gross, and I instinctively want to reach for the nearest carb-related item to cure my jitters. I have no idea if carbs cure jitters… but that’s how I feel anyway.
I try to drink a full glass of lukewarm (not as refreshing, but easier to drink) water before I eat or drink anything else in the morning. I read somewhere (Pinterest, probably Pinterest) that it’s good for your body to process water on an empty stomach… so I tried it, and I swear it makes me feel better. If I’m on top of my game, I’ll try to drink a glass before I go to bed… but the main idea is to replace every caffeinated drink with the same amount of water.
Wait before you guzzle.
If you can manage to crush that glass of water and get some breakfast in you before you have a cup of coffee/caffeinated tea, you’re likely to drink less of it in the morning, and have some left for that afternoon cup of emergency “she’s going DOWN” coffee that you’ll more than likely need around 2:30.
Now, if the thought of not drinking your coffee immediately after leaving your bed makes you want to cry… at least drink the water and have breakfast after your mandatory date with your special beverage.
Designate your second string.
I think I just tried to use a sports reference there, and I’m not sure if it actually worked.
What I mean is, find some caffeine alternatives that help you brighten up a bit, so you can save the Good Stuff for when you really need it.
I like to have a good stock of peppermint tea on hand when I’m feeling stressed out or anxious about things… because caffeine can make anxiety worse. For whatever reason, the bright minty-ness of it can usually perk me up and, confusingly, the warm herbally-ness calms me down when I see too many current events (that are HORRIBLE) in my news feed. Anti-anxiety + a false sense of wakefulness = winning.
(On a related note, if you’re sharing lots of articles about infectious diseases and impending environmental disaster, I have probably unfollowed you.)
Mint and citrus are two great hippie-tastic options to perk you up… whether it’s cracking open an orange or popping a spearmint lifesaver, it might be able to keep your eyelids open until your coffeepot has finished brewing.
Get Yo’self a Thermos
I’ve started brewing a full pot of coffee in the morning, and pouring what doesn’t get drunk into a thermos. I have my morning two, fill up my husband’s travel mug, and pour the rest into that kick-ass, heavy-duty container.
This makes it easier for me to grab a cup when I start to crash in the afternoon, and often saves me from sleep-reading the Lorax to my son. Eyelids droop the most when you’re desperately waiting for your cup of sweet, sweet caffeine to fill up that glass carafe.
ALSO, pouring your Joe into a thermos keeps it from getting overcooked in the pot, while keeping it at a nice toasty temperature for most of the day (if you get a good one… I suggest Stanley, Coleman, or Thermos brands). I also find that it keeps me from drinking too much coffee, simply because I’m too lazy to make more once I’ve finished off the Thermos
A few notes:
-I am in no way a dietitian or scientist. I just got a little emotional this morning when I smelled my coffee brewing, and decided that I should share the things I’ve learned over these four exhausted years.
-Obviously, no one should be completely and utterly dependent on any substance (unless it’s LOVE guys, COME ON), so, please, take this with a few grains of salt. If caffeine causes you problems, kick it out. If you are clinically sleep-deprived, please please don’t turn to me for advice.
-If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on caffeine, go local! There are some incredible coffee roasters in Nebraska (Beansmith, the Mill, Cultiva), and they could use your support a lot more than SBux.
make anxiety worse: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50820